Managing Atrial Fibrillation With Medication

This article was orgininally published on Answers.com

The first course of treatment for most people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (Afib), the most common abnormal heart rhythm, is management through medication. Patients are usually prescribed a combination of three types of drugs to control the heart rate, heart rhythm, and the risk of blood clots and stroke. Medication cannot cure Afib, but can reduce episodes and manage risks associated with abnormal heart rhythms.

Anticoagulant Medication

The abnormal heart rhythms of Afib cause the heart to beat erratically allowing blood to pool in the upper chambers and form clots. These clots can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Anticoagulants are commonly called blood thinners and are used to keep the blood from forming clots, thereby preventing strokes. Afib patients are commonly prescribed Coumadin, also known as warfarin, to thin the blood to specific degree. Patients must be vigilant in taking medication and monitoring the thinness of their blood, measured by the International Normalized Ratio (INR). When taken consistently, maintaining the prescribed INR, Coumadin decreases the risk of stroke by 78 percent. Anticoagulants can be difficult drugs to tolerate. Swings in INR levels can create significant bruising and dangerous bleeding.

Stethoscope-heart250

Tips For Managing Anticoagulant Medication

  • Be consistent in what you eat and drink. Leafy green vegetables and other foods can impact INR.
  • Check the label on supplements. Many multivitamins contain vitamin K. Herbal remedies with ginseng, gingko biloba, ginger, garlic, St. John’s Wort and green tea will affect INR. Check with the pharmacist before taking a supplement or over-the-counter medication.- Be vigilant in keeping INR testing appointments.
  • Pay attention to bruising and menstrual cycles. Excessive bruising and intense menstrual flow may be signs of a dangerously high INR.

Heart Rate Control Medication

Heart rate control medications slow down the heart by blocking some of the electrical signals. There are three types of heart rate control medications: Beta blockers slow the heart rate and relax the blood vessels. They are considered the most benign heart rate medications and are the often the starting point in Afib treatment. Beta blockers do, however, have some troubling side effects including extreme fatigue, depression, and dizziness. Examples include Atenolol, Toprol, and Lopressor. Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels and reduce heart workload. Examples includes Diltiazem and Verapamil. Side effects of these medications can include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and even cardiac arrhythmias.Cardiac glycosides improve cardiac output. While effective, cardiac glycosides, such as Digoxin, can be toxic.Rate control medication is not a cure for Afib, and can only manage the symptoms. Long term use may allow the heart to enlarge through overuse. For those with intermittent, or occasional Afib episodes, the doctor could prescribe the Pill-in-the-Pocket approach. Rather than taking the medication every day, patients keep it on hand and take it during an episode.

Heart Rhythm Control Medication

Treatment with rhythm control medication may be used if rate control medications are not effective in managing Afib episodes. Rhythm control medications have very serious side effects and are not considered long-term solutions for Afib treatment. Heart rhythm control medications include:- Sodium channel blockers. These medications improve rhythm by slowing electrical conduction. Side effects include severe fatigue and reduced quality of life. – Potassium channel blockers. These medications relax the heart muscle and slow electrical signals causing Afib. Amiodarone, a potassium channel blocker, is effective in heart rhythm control, but creates lung toxicity and has the potential for long-term adverse effects. It has also been know to turn a patient’s skin blue.

Some patients are able to manage Afib for years through medication, others find it ineffective from the beginning. If medication is not sufficient in managing Afib episodes, other options such as surgical or catheter ablation may be explored.

Eliz Greene is a heart health journalist and motivational wellness speaker specializing in serving women in business. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies for health and success participants can fit into an already busy day. Her Heart of Wellness Video Program is making a difference in employee health around the country:

“I went into this thinking how inconvenient it would be to find a few minutes a day to watch these videos. After all, I’m sure most of us have heard these topics before by other wellness programs or even our doctors. However, once I started, I came to appreciate the approach. The calm and relaxing way the topic was relayed, actually helped me process the information better. Reminding me “I Will Because” kept me focused on my purpose. The best part, my blood pressure has improved!” City of Bryan, Texas Employee

Click here to start your own path to the Heart of Wellness today!

Beyond “Just Say No”: Parenting Tips

Recently my 14-year-old daughters and I attended the “In My Shoes” exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Library. Hoping to spark conversation between parents and teens, the exhibit was created by teen patients at Rosecrance’s adolescent campus in Rockford, Illinois, the exhibit displays shoes that have been painted and decorated by teens to tell their story about substance use. I was contracted to blog about the exhibit, and was interested to see if it would indeed spark conversation.  Here is what happened in the car on the way back from the exhibit:

Me: “So, it seems like the exhibit was designed to get kids and parents talking about substance abuse. Do you think we talk about that enough?”

Daughter #1:  Looks up from her phone, “Yes.”
Daughter #2:   “We talk about it at school all the time.  It’s all ‘Don’t do it.’  It is the same thing all the time.”

Hmm… that is interesting.  It is true. Even the conversations my husband and I have had with them has been rooted in a kind of right vs wrong, disciplinary “Just Say No” conversation (mixed with some cautionary tales).

Me: “So, the stories on the shoes, do you think that was more directed at teens or at parents?”Photo 2
Daughter #2: “Parents. Kids know that stuff.”

Me: “Huh, okay.  So, some of the stories were about really bad things happening to the person.  Others were about depression.  What do you think about that?”

Daughter #2: (Who had the bad luck of sitting in the front passenger seat and was more socially forced to participate in this somewhat uncomfortable conversation.  When I asked about the discomfort level the both agreed it was less uncomfortable than talking about sex, but a very close second.) “It seems like they we all trying to get away from pain or feel better using drugs or drinking.”

This lead to a rather long conversation about self-medicating and why some kids may be more at risk than others.  Right now my girls live in a happy bubble.  They haven’t yet been exposed to even the opportunity to “Just Say No.”  But we all believe that day will come.

The girls and I had a good conversation, and later we continued with my husband too.  I don’t kid myself that one conversation will inoculate my girls from the possibility of substance abuse.  We’ve been honest about the family history of dependency and the dangers of even “social” use. This will have to be an on-going dialogue.

I’m grateful for the spark of conversation the “In My Shoes” exhibit and the resources materials it provided.  I’m excited to participate in the #InMyShoes tweet chat tonight at 7 pm Central Time.  http://www.rosecrance.org/twitter-chat/

The “In My Shoes” exhibit will open to the public on April 1, 2015, at the Central Library at 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., where it will be on display in the Schoenleber Reading Room until April 26. The exhibit’s April stop coincides with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s Alcohol Awareness Month, whose 2015 theme is “Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.”

Learn more about the exhibit and other tour locations at www.rosecrance.org/inmyshoes/

Helpful Resources:

Click here for a Resource for talking to teens about marijuana

Find out more about Rosecrance www.rosecrance.org

Eliz is pleased to partner with Rosecrance to promote this exhibit and has been compensated for this post.  All opinions are her own.

Eliz Greene is a freelance writer, blogger, and spokesperson.  She is a popular wellness speaker and virtual event host.  Find more parenting tips and more information at www.elizgreene.com

 

Walking In Your Teen’s Shoes: Parenting Tips

What would it be like to walk in the shoes of a teen struggling with substance abuse?

Communicating with teenagers can mean walking a tightrope on a daily basis.  Difficult subjects such as substance abuse make those conversations even more difficult.

An art exhibit on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum hopes to spark meaningful conversations between parents and teens Photo 2by providing a look into the pressures and realities of teen life.  The exhibit “In My Shoes” was created by teen patients at Rosecrance’s adolescent campus in Rockford, the exhibit displays shoes that have been painted and decorated by teens to tell their story about substance use and serves as a starting point for discussion about taking the important steps to prevent substance use.

Rosecrance, a leading national provider of substance abuse treatment for teens in Rockford, IL, launched “In My Shoes,” to help parents understand teenagers’ points of view about the pressures they face and how they are confronted with the potential to use and abuse substances.

“This artwork display will inspire parents to do all they can to support and help prevent any level of substance use among their teens,” said Dr. Thomas Wright, Rosecrance’s Chief Medical Officer.  “Teens want their parents to actively parent and give them guidance, especially in today’s changing social environment.”

The “In My Shoes” exhibit will open to the public on April 1, 2015, at the Central Library at 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., where it will be on display in the Schoenleber Reading Room until April 26. The exhibit’s April stop coincides with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s Alcohol Awareness Month, whose 2015 theme is “Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.”

Learn more about the exhibit at www.rosecrance.org/inmyshoes/

Helpful Resources:

Click here for a Resource for talking to teens about marijuana

Find out more about Rosecrance www.rosecrance.org

Eliz is pleased to partner with Rosecrance to promote this exhibit and has been compensated for this post.  All opinions are her own.

Eliz Greene is a freelance writer, blogger, and spokesperson.  She is a popular wellness speaker and virtual event host.  Find out more at www.elizgreene.com

Time To BE

Stop Doing and Just BE…

Life is so busy, full noise and things to do. How long has it been since you had time when you didn’t have to DO anything… time to just BE?

One of the reasons I love to sail is that it is the opportunity to just BE.  Sure, there are lines to pull, sails to trim, and a boat to steer, but most of the time, none of it is taxing… it’s relaxing.

No matter how you choose to do it, finding ways to unplug from the demands of work and home and just be is rejuvenating.

Think about it.silhouette of a woman

What would it feel like to step away from the computer, turn off the phone, silence the demands, tuck the to-do list away and just enjoy the quiet? How much more calm, focused, and healthy would you feel when you return?

It is time to just BE.

Tomorrow I’m off to BE on a sailboat, somewhere warm.  I’ll be back in 10 days, ready to take on the world!

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Eliz Greene is a motivational wellness speaker and a hybrid event emcee.  Her charisma and enthusiasm bridges the gap between live and virtual participants. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies participants can fit into an already busy day. Learn more at www.elizgreene.com or download a copy of her ebook: Leverage Your Speaker To Fill The Seats

15 Tips For A Healthy Meeting Or Convention

Stay focused and energized with tips for a healthy and productive meeting, conference, or convention.

A multiple day conference can undo the good work of healthy habits. Four hours of sitting increases triglyceride levels, raises blood pressure, deters blood flow, and slows thinking. Taking steps to protect your health as a participant is important. As a presenter, using movement within the program can support audience engagement, learning, and health. Event organizers can design programs to support healthy habits and encourage participation and learning.dancing-office-people

Healthy Meeting Tips for Participants

  • Stalk The Halls: Three 10-minute walks during the day can be as beneficial as a 30-minute walk. Walk from your room to the meeting area – and take a victory lap. Better yet, take the stairs for even more benefit.
  • Go A Little Nutty: A handful of heart healthy nuts such as almonds or walnuts is a great way to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, get a little protein, and stave off hunger. They are also high in fiber which aids in clearing cholesterol from your body (a good thing if there is some naughty eating).
  • Drink (Water That Is): At each session, grab a glass of water. Staying hydrated will help prevent the afternoon headache and aid digestion. Start your day with a big glass of water before your morning coffee. In the evening, alternate water with more adult beverages to keep your wits about you and prevent a hangover.
  • Sleep: Yes, this is a tough one! Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep each night. On average adults need 7 to 8 hours per night. Getting at least 6 hours of sleep will limit the sleep deficit you create and allow you to stay alert. A quick nap works wonders too!
  • Seek Out The Positive: Spend time with people who support you and your goals. Find someone to act as your accountability partner to help sort through all of the information and settle on action steps so you aren’t overwhelmed. Stop. Breathe. Relax. You can’t implement every idea, neither can anyone else.

Healthy Meeting Tips for Presenters

  • Audience Participates Every 15 minutes: Spur learning and engagement by breaking up passive listening with interaction.
  • Get Them Up: Making your audience stand at least once per hour increases blood flow, and supports learning.
  • Change Their Focus: Participants tend to slump in their chairs and stay in one position. Simply asking them to turn to look at the back wall, or in some other way change focus and position will increase engagement and ease body tension.

Healthy Convention Tips for Event Professionals

  • Plan 10 minutes of activity for every 4 hours of seated time.
  • Play the Pedometer Game: Give prizes for daily steps.
  • Walk To Eat: Put some distance between meeting rooms and dining areas to encourage movement.
  • Standing Committee Meetings: don’t sit down!
  • Active Breakout Sessions: Schedule Zoomba, yoga, or other activity during day to provide processing time
  • Create Healthy Community Opportunities: Running groups, yoga, walking groups etc.
  • Utilize a Line Dance or Flash Mob: Cue movement time with a theme song.

Plan ahead for a healthy meeting!

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Eliz Greene is a motivational wellness speaker and a hybrid event emcee.  Her charisma and enthusiasm bridges the gap between live and virtual participants. Her humor and personal stories of recovering from a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins illustrate simple strategies participants can fit into an already busy day. Learn more at www.elizgreene.com or download a copy of her ebook: Leverage Your Speaker To Fill The Seats